Putting the Social in Social Media
So much is said about how social media connects us with others in the virtual world, but the challenge for me is identifying that interaction. How social is it when I just log on to my Facebook page, Twitter account or Linked In and throw out details of whatever event or thought I feel is important to share and that you will care about? Do I really interact when people reply to those posts?
How much thought do I put into clicking on "like" to comments I read? Am I doing this to acknowledge I read the message or am I just passing through and absent mindedly ticking off those affirmations?
How often do we re-tweet a comment without ever reading the attached links? I am sometimes guilty of trusting the other person’s judgment and not verifying what I am sending on. If it was good enough for that person, it must be ok to represent my ideas, right? I really must slow down and stop doing that before it gets me into trouble.
I have no evidence one way or another that the Multiple Sclerosis community is unique in how people interact using social media; other chronic disease communities probably also connect in the same way as those of us with MS, because there is that human desire to seek out others with like experiences. It just happens to be my experience is predominantly with MS, and I like to believe we are a very social bunch, more than willing to share our experiences and thoughts with others.
What else I know is I have forged significant friendships via Social Media with people I may never meet in person. We have become friends - we talk on the phone, we share laughs via Skype and have consoled each other virtually as we hit life’s obstacles as well as celebrated little and big joys. As crappy as having MS can be, it has brought some of the most wonderful, creative and compassionate people into my circle of friends.
These wonderful social media tools are at our disposal to use to seek others with like interests and to connect in new ways; fortunately the software designers and financial backers have done the hard part. The challenge for us is greater than how to finance and build the physical structures: how can we turn these encounters into something truly social – not just quick encounters but meaningful exchanges offering companionship and creating new friendships? How can we slow down and make the most of building a new community?
There is no charge other than the price of a computer and internet service to use these social media tools to help build this new MS site. You can even access those for free at your local library, although there is often a lengthy wait for a 15 minute turn at the computer.
To make Multiple-Sclerosis.net truly Social, there is only the cost of giving a bit of ourselves. I promise to try to do just that with each blog entry, community comment and other encounters. I hope you will also slow down, and spend some time being social with me.
Wishing you well,
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